A few weeks ago, I got an interesting question from someone who works at HODINKEE that was so straightforward that it left me a little floored. The question was when I’m looking at a watch, what am I looking at – in other words, how do I evaluate a fake watch that I’m going to write about?
The more I thought about it, the less clear the answer seemed to be, and I realized that despite all the years of work I’ve done, I’d never really thought systematically about how to approach this question. After a lot of thought (and some embarrassment that I had never considered this before), the following points came to me.
First, there’s the first gut reaction – it can be anything from wow to WTF, depending on the replica rolex watch (and other immeasurable factors, like whether I had my first cup of coffee. More criticism depends on the critic’s blood sugar level than you might suspect). While this is the basis for everything that follows, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If I’m looking at a simple two-handed formal watch in precious metal, there are dozens (hundreds) of other pieces I’ve seen lurking in the background. If it’s a watch from a brand I’m familiar with, and it’s part of a product line I’m familiar with, my reaction – or even my first instinct – happens in the context of prior exposure and knowledge.
If I see a watch for the first time based on a press image, I look at it differently than I would if I saw it in person. No matter how good the images in a press release are (they range from technically good but unimaginative, to very complete and diverse, to technically and stylistically hopelessly bad, and everything in between), they are no more a substitute for real-world operation for a watch writer than they are for a car writer writing about a new car based solely on the images and specs provided by the brand. (I and all watch writers have seen that shooting a five-figure imitation watch requires less imagination than Bounty used to shoot a paper towel roll.)
That said, if it’s a make or model you know, you can usually make a pretty good guess as to what the impression on set will be. The tricky part is when it’s something new and different. We recently got our first look at the Odysseus by Lange. My first exposure to the watch was of course the press picture and I was immediately suspicious. This was new territory for Lange, and I was not yet convinced that it would work. However, when I saw the replica watches in person, it was a different story – it had an authority that stopped me from thinking that Lange had swung the baton and I quickly became enamored with it.